CIA nominee says open to agent prosecution committing torture

President Barack Obama's choice to head the CIA said he would support "limited" prosecution of any agents .

CIA nominee says open to agent prosecution committing torture

President Barack Obama's choice to head the CIA said on Thursday he would support "limited" prosecution of any agents who deliberately violated the law in interrogating suspects.

Former White House chief of staff Leon Panetta, in Senate confirmation hearings on his nomination, broke with outgoing CIA Director Michael Hayden to support a congressional inquiry into the agency's detention and interrogation program launched after the Sept. 11 attacks.

He said the Senate Intelligence Committee would be an appropriate place for an inquiry "to learn lessons from what happened" in the program, and said he would do everything he could to cooperate.

So-called "terrorism" suspects were subjected to torture, including, in some cases, simulated drowning or "waterboarding."

Panetta said he considered waterboarding to be torture, but did not support prosecuting agents.

However, "if there were those who deliberately violated the law, and deliberately took actions which were above and beyond the standards presented to them, then obviously in those limited cases there should be prosecution," he said.

He said he also suspected the United States had sent some people to other countries for interrogation using torture.

Hayden has opposed any inquiry into the interrogation program.

Panetta said he would if necessary ask Obama to allow "harsher interrogations" than those covered by the Army Field Manual, which the president last month set as the government standard. The manual bans techniques such as waterboarding.

Panetta is a former U.S. congressman and White House chief of staff under former President Bill Clinton. He is expected to win easy confirmation.

Panetta said as CIA director he would seek to identify risks related to the global economic crisis. "What are the consequences of that in terms of stability in the world?" he said.

He said he will not permit the rendition of detainees to foreign countries for the purpose of torture.

Renditions

Panetta said Obama banned "that kind of extraordinary rendition - when we send someone for the purpose of torture or actions by another country that violate our human values".

"I do not believe we ought to use renditions for the purpose of sending people to 'black sites', secret prisons, and not providing the kind of oversight I believe is necessary," he said.

However Panetta said some kinds of renditions of prisoners were "appropriate" and that the US retained the right to temporarily hold and debrief "high value" terrorism suspects seized overseas.

"I think renditions where we return individuals to another country where they prosecute them under their laws, I think that is an appropriate use of rendition," Panetta said.

Obama signed an executive order on 22 January ordering the closure of Guantanamo Bay prison camp and of CIA secret prisons, or "black sites" abroad, although the time frame for the closures remains unclear.

Also, US media last week reported that Obama signed an order for CIA to continue carrying out the controversial Bush-era kidnappings as one of his first works.

According to the report, Obama did so just two days after becoming president.

So-called "renditions" include secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that collabarate with the United States.


Agencies

Last Mod: 06 Şubat 2009, 15:11
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